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    L.A. Urban

    by Allison Milionis

    "Downtown L.A." may not be an oxymoron much longer, because when the construction dust finally settles, the sprawling metropolis of Los Angeles, California will have its own urban center. Ten years ago nobody would have believed it, but since an adaptive reuse ordinance was adopted in 1999 to eliminate many regulatory barriers, construction investment in downtown L.A. has ballooned to $12.2 billion. This according to a study released in February 2006 by the Downtown Center Business Improvement District (DCBID).

    Ambitious developers have been feverishly buying up old buildings for residential conversions or breaking ground on parking lots for new luxury condominium towers. Working in their favor is a growing housing shortage throughout L.A., coupled with freeways gridlocked with suburban commuters. Indeed, the city has expanded beyond manageable limits, and to accommodate the constant influx of newcomers, there is only one direction to go — up.

    Until recently, the area roughly defined by the 101 Freeway to the north, the 10 to the south, the Los Angeles River on the east, and the 110 Freeway on the west had greatly depreciated in value. Businesses were leaving office towers for addresses in Century City and Santa Monica. The few thousand residents who lived downtown occupied several high-end apartment towers on Bunker Hill or bohemian lofts and artist studios in converted warehouses.   >>>

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    ArchWeek Image

    St. Vibiana's Cathedral (1876) against a backdrop of modern steel and glass towers in downtown Los Angeles. Closed after the 1994 Northridge earthquake, it underwent ten years of restoration and reopened as a performing arts center.
    Photo: Gilmore Associates

    ArchWeek Image

    The San Fernando Building in the Old Bank District was one of the first adaptive reuse projects completed by developer Tom Gilmore.
    Photo: Gilmore Associates

     

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